Chairman of the Senate energy committee Sherwin Gatchalian said they will thoroughly study whether to award Solar Para sa Bayan Corp. a national franchise or just allow the firm to join the Qualified Third Party (QTP) program of the Department of Energy (DOE).
Gatchalian released the statement after the panel decided on the bill aiming to grant a 25-year congressional franchise for the renewable-energy firm.
“Ito ang pinag-aaralan namin ng mabuti dahil itong ino-offer, bagong tech ito. Pag-aaralan pa kung kelangan ng franchise o pwede na pumasok sa existing ito ang Qualified Third Party (We are carefully looking into this since it offers a new technology. We will determine if a franchise is necessary or the firm could just participate into the existing mechanism of the Qualified Third Party program),” Gatchalian said..
As stated in the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA), remote and unelectrified areas shall be opened to other qualified third parties.
The QTP Program is one of the energy department’s efforts to electrify households nationwide by 2022.
SPB founder and CEO Leandro Leviste defended the bill during the hearing, saying that it adheres to the rules of the EPIRA law and a legislation that will benefit the consumers.
Leviste also mentioned that the bill is a non-exclusive “that is beneficial for the entry of more companies into this previously ignored space.” Leviste is.
“Over a hundred solar companies recently attended meetings discussing ways to apply for their own franchises. They think that this can pave the way for they themselves to have a means to effectively serve these same areas themselves,” Leviste said.
“One company, in fact, in December of 2018, already filed its own bill modeled after the original bill of Solar Para sa Bayan in the House seeking the same,” Leviste added.
Leviste is the son of Senator Loren Legarda.
The House of Representatives approved House Bill 8179 on third reading last December. The bill aims to grant SPSB Corp. a 25-year franchise to construct, install, establish, operate, and maintain distributable power technologies (DPT) and mini-grid systems throughout the country to improve access to sustainable energy.
The bill requires the energy firm to operate its DPT and mini-grid systems in the least cost manner.
The grantee shall also modify, improve, or change its facilities and equipment to provide efficient and reliable service and reduced electricity costs depending on the interest of the consumers.
In addition, the grantee shall also charge reasonable and right energy prices for its services to all types of consumers in order for businesses and industries to be able to compete.
The bill forbids the lease, transfer, or sale of the franchise, rights, or privileges obtained. It also prevents the transfer of controlling interest by the grantee to another person or party.